Gov. Gina Raimondo told Rhode Island residents Monday to prepare for a powerful and potentially historic storm, and to stay off the roads.
Raimondo signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency.
The National Weather Service has issued a blizzard warning for a 250-mile stretch of the Northeast. Forecasters say the storm could bring 2 to 3 feet of snow to Rhode Island and wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph along the state's coast.
Travel is banned on all Rhode Island roads starting at midnight, until further notice, Raimondo said.
"We need to be prepared for a multiday event with 2 to 3 feet of accumulation, and potentially to be without power for days," she said Monday at the State House.
Here is a look at how the storm might impact Rhode Island and what is being done to prepare:
With snow intensifying overnight, Raimondo asked people to get off the roads by 8 p.m. so plows can get through. State police Col. Steven G. O'Donnell said it's important to stay home to avoid putting first responders at risk. Bridges will likely be shut down, O'Donnell said.
Four hundred plows are ready, but the snow will fall faster than they can plow, according to the state Department of Transportation.
Raimondo said she declared a state of emergency because she believes lives are at risk. She said the declaration allows her to activate the Rhode Island National Guard, if necessary, access federal funding and better coordinate throughout state government. The state's emergency operations center opens at 6 p.m. Monday and is expected to remain open throughout the storm.
National Grid officials said they are preparing for inevitable power outages. Tim Horan, president of National Grid, said about 1,000 additional tree and line crews were requested for the region. He said 30 of those will be in Rhode Island on Monday night, and 30 more are expected to arrive in the morning to be dispatched to the hardest-hit areas. National Grid is staging crews in Warwick and Lincoln.
Raimondo asked Rhode Islanders to make sure they have enough heating fuel, batteries, food and water for several days. She said she wants people to check on their relatives and neighbors. The worst of the storm is expected to occur between 1 a.m. to 10 a.m., and it will continue to snow throughout Tuesday, she added. Municipalities and the American Red Cross are opening shelters.
"If we pull together as Rhode Islanders, and I know we'll do that, if we lend a helping hand to our loved ones, we're going to be fine and we're going to get through this," Raimondo said.
State government is closing at 11 p.m. Monday, and the General Assembly has canceled its activities for Tuesday. All Rhode Island state courts will be closed Tuesday. Several municipalities have issued parking bans. Airlines have told officials at T.F. Green that Tuesday flights will be canceled.